Art and Lies, And
Reposting stuff I like from the archives. This one’s from 2006.
There is this picture of us back when we were even younger; snapshot circa 2004. 3 years after the start of our life together. If pictures could tell a tale this was the tale of us on the page just after ‘happy together’, though there you were, still assuring, still composed, still my best friend. Any casual observer might have waved it off as yet another happy boy and girl in love, as it was for a time, but by this time I had already gone. Walked out of that door to build a new life for myself, and pieces for you to pick upon.
There is no picture of us, for you made me destroy them long ago. The digital equivalent of the primitive act of shredding, however, cannot possibly shred those which persist with no tangible traces. On that couch which wasn’t ours, in an apartment which wasn’t ours, in a time which never was ours, I had a smile which I don’t think could have ever been mine, and a lover who never was. Everyone’s a thief, so everything we had was stolen, though did you really have to take the heart, too? I watched you walk away, as you always do, with no tears but that scrap of paper in my pocket which read: I have always loved you. But.
There is a recent picture I have with her. The sort which makes people cringe and squeal and avert their eyes: oh that’s too sweet. I don’t think I’d ever looked so radiant, or been as photogenic — she does bring out the best of me, it’s true. I’m usually smirking in photographs, never very confident about how I look. Yet in a moment without inhibitions, in a country which didn’t inhibit us, I actually beamed. You could even see the little dance in my eyes. I haven’t had the bad luck to have to do any walking, yet, except on and on.
[..] but most pictures lie. The moment the shutter is released, so are such lies. Little ones and big ones; classmates you can’t stand wipe off the smiles for posterity and continue being pests. Words, however, are even more dangerous. There is no shutter to depress or release, only floodgates. No freeze frame, only continuously; everlasting and persisting long after the fact. Words just meander on and on like that, once released, there’s no undo, no file to destroy or photo paper to fade off. Margaret Atwood says the only truly honest writing is that which will never be read, not even by yourself — to be honest in writing would require the equivalent of writing with one’s left hand, correction fluid blotting out everything which has already been written, as you continue. Words, as we know, are fatal, which in turn rub off on the person who pens them, making her potentially fatal too. Art and Life may coexist, though if they also co-vary, correlate, and co-habitate then my god we are in trouble. Perhaps this is why, afraid of myself, I turn to other forms of art thinking they could perhaps be less dangerous in these hands, so I could feel as if I continue to operate heavy machinery though more forgivingly so. How was I to know that in a parallel life I could have such art director aspirations? I’m starting to believe I’m a movie. Which is potentially fatal.
So in one movie there’s this scene with the three of you I love at a table, speaking with each other. I’m thinking my god let me out of here I can’t breathe. In another there’s a scene of a writer at her desk scribbling furiously in illegible longhand, haunted by the scrap of paper in her pocket; I have always… but. The camera pans, we’re at this cafe, more or less like one of the many other cafes we’ve had The Talk in. Bittersweet Comedy? you scribble. I want to reply: comedy only when there is an audience; bittersweet is quite enough for me. When people kiss in dark alleyways they are usually making promises. When we do, we break a thousand of them, including the ones we have been hanging on to for any semblance of survival.
I can understand why writers may be attracted to each other — it must be wonderful to be written about. I have never been written about, though I have always been writing about. Then I think of Hughes and Plath and.. feel a little better about it. Writers are also a dramatic bunch, and I can’t even handle my own.
As any good student of the social sciences might, I have fallen into the habit of diagramming and chart-drawing. Clearly labelled axes, arrows indicating strength and direction of relationships, establishing causal relations and so on. So in our chart of inclusionary and exclusionary love, i.e. Us and Them, we have 2 separate diagrams, each labelled family/ religion/ friends, other legitimate, Wanted Things like that. In one, the lines extend to touch every base, there exists the outward pull which initiates the relationship with Such Wanted Things; the area within which forming the total area of everything passionate like desire and sex and understanding, etc. In our chart, then, the axes are rarely ever touched; compared to the full circle/oval of the first, we have this malnourished figure which isn’t sure if it was a triangle or a skinny oval. Desire and sex, etc, The Things Wanted. Never once extending beyond its boundaries to touch the periphery of Everything Else and Ever After.
- Everything Else, Those Things Wanted, Tomorrows and our yesterdays. Full Circle.